This week, Laura and Sara are joined by Amy Giordano, owner of Gus Giordano Dance School located at 5230 N. Clark. The school offers a variety of dance programs, from classes in all styles & levels including ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, contemporary, musical theater & more for children from age 2 to 17, as well as drop in classes for adults and summer camps and intensives.
Amy is honored to continue the school her parents, Gus & Peg Giordano, started in Evanston in 1953.Amy moved the school from Evanston to Andersonville in 2011 to fulfill her father’s dream of having his school in Chicago. Amy loves being located here and she knows her parents would have loved the wonderful atmosphere in Andersonville.
Amy also runs the Gus Giordano Jazz Legacy Foundation which aims to create the same culture, uplifting spirit, and dedication to spreading the joy of jazz that her parents Gus & Peg gave to thousands of people. The Legacy Foundation funds scholarships to dancers of all ages, and sponsors performances and master classes to schools in the Chicagoland area.
“I truly believe that it was a gift that was just born in him; [My dad] wanted to dance more than anything… His mind was always creating; everywhere he went, he was creating.”
Listen to Episode 45 with Amy Giordano!
Here are some references from Episode 45 that you may want to check out:
- Amy Giordano is the daughter of Gus Giordano, who is known as the godfather of Jazz Dance. Before receiving this title, Gus served in the marines to pay tuition to the University of Missouri, where he met his wife and Amy’s mother, Peg.
- Though he did not study dance in college, Gus had been dancing since he was five years old. He saw his cousin tap dance while visiting New Orleans, and his enthusiasm only grew. His parents got him some shoes and wood for their basement, where Gus would hold classes for the neighborhood kids at a nickel a piece.
- His love of dance persisted through his time in the marines and college. After graduating Gus and Peg moved to New York, where he danced in the show “Wish You Were Here.” When the show was taken off of the stage, they moved to Evanston, IL to start a dance school. Thanks to their efforts, jazz dance became a burgeoning movement in the Chicago and throughout the country.
- Amy had been dancing for as long as she could remember. But, at the age of fifteen, she was a passenger in a car accident. This resulted in a shattered knee bone, years of casts and surgeries, and her attendance at Tulane University in New Orleans instead of continuing to study dance. She received her degree in marketing and design and continued to help out at her parent’s studio while working full-time until her mother died of a heart attack.
- After her mother passed, Amy took her position at the studio. She worked full-time behind the scenes, doing everything from producing to helping younger students put on their shoes. It was not until she took her mother’s position that Amy realized the impact that her father had on the world of dance – jazz dance had become a national movement because of Gus’s persistence and generosity. He passed away in 2008, and Amy took over the business.
- After her father’s passing and several health problems, Amy decided to move the studio closer to the city. She found Andersonville while driving, and looked at the school’s current building – which used to be inhabited by a beauty school. Immediately sensing that this was the place to move, she signed the lease.
- Soon after deciding to make the move to Andersonville, Amy underwent knee replacement surgery. Despite being bedridden and having to work from home, she had no doubt that this would be a great place for her school to flourish. The Andersonville location opened in June of 2011.
- Gus and Peg were always extremely generous people, a trait which Amy received as well. She has solidified her family’s legacy of jazz dance and giving hearts through the Gus Giordano Jazz Legacy Foundation, which she created in 2017 to provide more scholarships to students who want to dance.
- In the summer of 2018, the Jazz Legacy Foundation gave 50 scholarships for a full week of camp to children from many of the CPS schools. They also have many partnerships with a variety of CPS schools. Amy also works to give each of the students all of the attire they need for their uniforms. This includes proper footwear, hair kits, transportation and even helping kids learn how to properly put their hair up.
- Interested in learning more? Read more about Gus Giordano and his continuing legacy here.
- If Amy could trade places with any other Andersonville business for a day, she would want to work at Vincent (1475 W. Balmoral).. She enjoys meeting all different kinds of people and would love the opportunity to welcome them warmly and get to know them better.
“Long live jazz!”
– Amy Giordano
Visit Gus Giordano Dance School on the following platforms: